January 21, 2012 by
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts shot a four-under-par 69 on Saturday to again find himself at the top of the leaderboard after the third round of the Volvo Golf Champions at the Fancourt Links.
Colsaerts fired a course-record 64 in the first round of the two million euro event to claim a four-shot lead, but then struggled to a 76 in the second round to slip six shots behind South African Branden Grace.
But on a day on which only 10 of the 35 golfers were under-par, Colsaerts’ impressive round, capped by an eagle-three on the 18th hole, vaulted him back into a tie for first place with Grace on 10-under.
Grace shot a two-over-par 75 in the tricky weather conditions, marked by a blustery wind and steady rain for most of the day, while fellow South Africans Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel are on nine-under-par.
European Ryder Cup captain Jose’-Maria Olazabal coaxed a one-under-par 72 out of the course to lie alone in fifth place on eight-under.
Masters champion Schwartzel made the biggest move on the third day with a five-under-par 68. The world number nine eagled the par-five ninth hole to go out in just 32 strokes, but his hot run petered out on the back nine, which he completed in one-under-par.
The long-hitting Colsaerts capitalised on some daring drives down the tight Fancourt fairways as he shrugged off a bogey on the first hole with birdies on the fourth, sixth and ninth holes. He was level-par on the back nine before his spectacular eagle on the 502-metre last hole.
“I hit an enormous drive on 18, leaving me 190 to the flag, and then hit an eight-iron on to the green. It was nice to make that putt after a drive like that,” Colsaerts told reporters after his round.
“The last few holes suit my long-driving skills so I go with my strengths. If I hit a good one, I can get half-a-shot on the field and that’s quite an advantage,” he said.
The scorecards of most of the golfers were filled with drop shots and there were two quadruple-bogeys – by Pablo Martin, who shot a 17-over-par 90, and Kenneth Ferrie – and five triple-bogeys.
Schwartzel said he was not surprised that the scoring had ballooned on Saturday.
“You can’t come here and play one practice round and think you’re going to conquer the course. You need to know it really well because a lot of the slopes you can use to your benefit, but a lot of them can bite you.
“The first two days were pretty easy because we weren’t hitting long clubs into the greens. But today was a lot tougher out there, the wind and misty rain made it difficult. I was hitting four-irons into the wind where normally I’d be hitting a seven-iron. That’s how short the ball is going, the fairways are also a lot softer, and it’s very difficult hitting long-irons into these greens. You need to be wide awake and commit to whatever shot you’re playing because the margins are not big out there,” Schwartzel said
Schwartzel has been battling a cold putter and he once again complained about his performance on the green.
“All my birdies were basically tap-ins. The ball just hasn’t been going in the hole otherwise. It feels like I’m hitting good putts, but I’m not starting them on-line and when I do, I’m just reading them wrong,” Schwartzel said.